ISSN 2330-717X

African Union’s Message Cites Russia-Ukraine Crisis As Additional Challenge Affecting Africa’s Development – OpEd

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Marking its 20th year of transformation from Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to African Union (AU), the 54-member continental organisation, said in a message circulated to all Heads of State and Government that Russia-Ukraine crisis is eroding the economic achievements that has accumulated down the years throughout Africa.  

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The Russia-Ukraine crisis, started late February, has considerably changed the existing geopolitical, state and institutional order, and making it more difficult for the collective capacity and parameters toward building Africa. The Russia-Ukraine crisis glaringly poses numerous complex challenges in many African countries. 

“More recently, Africa has become the collateral victim of a distant conflict, that between Russia and Ukraine. By profoundly upsetting the fragile global geopolitical and geostrategic balance, it has also cast a harsh light on the structural fragility of our economies,” the statement said. 

“The most emblematic sign of these fragilities is the food crisis following the climatic disorders, the health crisis of COVID-19, amplified today by the conflict in Ukraine. This crisis is characterised by a shrinking world supply of agricultural products and a soaring inflation of food prices. So, what to do in the face of all these challenges?” it further emphasised. 

In the light of the seemingly endless Russia-Ukraine crisis and global instability, Africa is particularly confronted with massive youth unemployment. In addition, the current economic crisis which is burdened by the debt, the climate and energy crisis, in turn, affects food prices through the exorbitant cost of transport, while the health crisis following the outbreak of COVID-19, weakens the production capacities of the various economic sectors. 

The African Union statement has also acknowledged the challenges posed by all-year round terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime (human trafficking, drug trafficking, arms trafficking). Terrorism, in particular, is constantly gaining ground. Today, many States devote a good part of their resources and energies to fighting or protecting themselves against this phenomenon, thus depriving vital sectors such as health and education of the resources they need. 

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“The continent is also faced with the disasters generated by bad governance, which can no longer be concealed by the demand for transparency imposed by a population that is increasingly open to the world through the new information and communication technologies,” it further said. 

The African Union, however, expresses hope that through a series of actions and strategic mechanisms, African countries world be able to overcome development difficulties and defficiencies. 

Then there is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which entered into force in 2021, making Africa the largest common market in the world and accelerating Continental integration. It reinforces the measures taken in terms of free movement of persons and goods.  

It depends on the collective determination and solidarity demonstrated, to face the challenges in a united and resolute manner, by the African leaders. It depends on the strong mobilisation of African leaders and the effective coordination provided by the African Union. 

In response to the food and nutrition crisis, it hopes to achieve by building resilience in food and nutrition security on the African continent – strengthening agri-food systems and health and social production systems to accelerate socio-economic and human capital development. 

As far as the resources allow, The African Union will continue addressing health, education, infrastructure, energy, science and research, the sectors whose promotion and realisation are necessary conditions for the development of Africa.    

The results have not always matched our ambitions. From the focussed pooling of all energies and geographically dispersed resources will emerge a new Africa, “the Africa we want” which has understandably become the resounding guiding slogan. 

There is only one condition: to identify and point out, without complacency, the evils that plague current actions and hinder the effective implementation of decisions, treaties, conventions and strategies in order to provide them with the appropriate treatment. 

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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